When it comes to running a successful business, finding ways to save both time and money can help you to reach your goals, and make a fantastic profit. However, when running a company itself uses so many of your resources, it can be difficult to find the opportunity to consider what changes could be made.

Here, we share some great ways to save time and money when running a business which we hope you can use to help you to hit your targets.

Save money on advertising

A lot of businesses spend a large amount of their budget on advertising, but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessary. For example, instead of splashing the cash on a number of Google Ad campaigns, you could try to optimise your website for organic search instead. By creating well written, engaging, and informative content for your company’s website, you can hit the top of the search rankings without spending a penny. Plus, organic search results tend to be more appealing to consumers than paid ads anyway, so you could benefit from some really pivotal web traffic increases.

Another way to get your business in front of customers without spending is by putting yourself out there as an industry expert. By using the passion that you have for the sector that you work in, you can find publications, websites, and social channels that will happily quote you on what you have to say about what is happening in your industry. This could lead to backlinks from high-quality websites, mentions in popular publications or a place in your target market’s social media feeds.

Invest in bespoke software

Investing in bespoke software that fits your business needs is one of the best ways to save time and money. Although software that you buy straight off the shelf can be cheaper, in the long run, you’ll end up spending money on unnecessary updates and maintenance that won’t benefit you at all. Through choosing bespoke software, you can ensure that it meets all of your business requirements and makes your processes simpler. This means less paperwork and admin for you and your employees, resulting in more time to get on with your day-to-day tasks.

Another way that bespoke software can save your company money is that you only need to pay for the features that you require. If you don’t think that it’ll make you or your employees more efficient, you don’t have to include it in your package. In addition to this, the people within your business will experience higher morale due to being provided with software that helps them to do their jobs more effectively. Bespoke software is always created to be intuitive and user-friendly, so you don’t need to worry about employees wasting time trying to work out how to use it, and can simply enjoy the rewards created from a happier workforce.

Be environmentally friendly

Running an environmentally friendly business won’t only help the planet, but can save your company money too. By encouraging employees to switch off their computers at the end of the day, making sure that all printers are set to print both sides, ensuring that excess water isn’t used when cleaning or washing up, and finding any other possible way to reduce energy use, you will find that you end up spending less on both electricity bills and other resources.

You’ll also find that changing any paper-based processes within your business to electronic processes will save money on the amount of paper you’re buying, and will probably enable your workforce to complete these processes quicker too. Anything that you can do to make processes easier for employees will mean that they have more time to spend on the tasks that are making your company money. Innovative bespoke software can help you to achieve this, as all of your projects and processes can be streamlined and organised electronically. This also means that you’ll be less likely to miss or lose details as the process is carried out, which can help to avoid disputes or confusion further down the line.

These ways to save time and money when running a business are very easy to put into practice, and you’ll start seeing the benefits within no time at all. If you choose to invest in bespoke software for your company, please do contact us to discuss your requirements, we’d be happy to use our experience to help you.

Naming companies is a strange business. It was 25 years ago that we chose the name Systematic Marketing and it can’t be described as a very scientific process. Of course back then we didn’t have domain names to worry us and so I don’t think anyone had thought of combining a colour with an animal.

When we started the Company it was registered with a name our accountant chose – Anduss if you are interested (whether that was thought about; our names were Russell and Andy; or just happenstance I don’t know).

We needed a real name and deliberated long and hard, but couldn’t come up with anything we liked.

In the end we decided that a particular day was the day. We sat in a café opposite the London office of Companies House with the change of name forms. We then wrote down a long list of words that described what we were offering and kept combining them until we found a shortlist of the ones that we thought explained it.

Systematic Marketing was the winner. We went straight over to Companies house and lodged the forms before we could change our minds. So, not necessarily the most scientific approach.

We have thought about changing it recently, especially when people think we are an agency rather than software developers specialising in marketing systems, but you do get attached these things.

And our first domain name back in the early 1990s was to be systmktg as that was the maximum length allowed.

google_grantsYou may not have heard of it, but Google Ad Grants is the non-profit edition of AdWords, Google’s online advertising tool. As part of its nonprofit programme, Google gives eligible charities $10,000 (£5,800) a month to spend on AdWords, Google’s pay-per-click advertising system. Not only that, if you spend at least $9,500 (£5,545) in two months of the previous 12 and fulfil other criteria, you can also apply for Grantspro. If approved,  Google will give your charity $40,000 a month to spend. That’s a whopping $480,000 (£280,000) a year.

Dan Cobley, Managing Director, Google UK says: “Through Google for Nonprofits, we want to support the incredible work of charitable organisations in the UK by eliminating some of the technical challenges and costs that they face. We hope our technology will help them to reach more donors, improve operations and raise awareness so they can focus on changing the world for the better.”

Get found quicker on Google by applying for your Google Grant today.  All charities registered with the Charity Commission of England and Wales are eligible.


One of the issues in data collection is how we use it. I have always prescribed that data is used as an aid to decision making, but all too often is used as a method of control and apportioning blame.

A recent report on the use of, and future direction for, data in the US cultural industry (don’t let that put you off, there’s a lot to learn from it even for commercial organisations) identified 6 factors that influence the gathering and collection if data and provide some preliminary suggestions for making better use of data. All make sense, but, as you might expect, the one that grabbed my attention was:

“Shift the conversation from data’s value as an accountability tool to data’s value as a decision-making tool.”

But As Barry Hessenius comments in his blog on the report:

“The question that always looms is “how”? How do you refocus all the data, research, information and input that is out there from being merely a tool to prove, after the fact, that a given program, project or approach has met its objective to information that informs decision making in the first place?”

An excellent question indeed.

I’d be interested in hearing how you approach this in your organisation, leave a comment.

Read Barry’s blog post.

The report can be downloaded here.

a graphHad a very enjoyable and informative day yesterday at the Arts Marketing Association seminar on “Tracking Success: Measuring the impact of press and pr” given by Katie Moffat. A huge amount was covered, but one small piece rang a particular bell for me.

A while back there was a big project by AMEC about measuring the impact of PR and one of the the things they said was “Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound management”. We often we spend time discussing the transparency aspect, but for me it is the replicability that is just so important. Maybe it’s my background in direct marketing, maybe the programmer in me.

How often do we analyse an activity so we can report on it to our clients and those “upstairs”? Didn’t we do well. But analysis just to pat ourselves on the back, or otherwise, is a waste of effort. The reason we need to analyse is to learn and that is why replicability is important, because if we do the same thing again and the outcome is different then we are obviously missing a critical factor and it is something that we should be searching for.

The action – analysis – action cycle should continually improve our performance over time as we learn what factors have the greatest impact on our results. If they don’t then you should be questioning your methods of evaluation.

A desk in an office.Image via Wikipedia

2011 has been a difficult year for arts organisations. Early this year 206 organisations found out they had had their applications for funding rejected by the Arts Council.

The impact of these funding cuts will depend to some extent on the size of the arts organisation you work in. If you are a larger organisation, you may have other sources of revenue and therefore be able to withstand the worst of harsh cuts. If you are a smaller organisation or have been heavily or entirely dependent on Arts Council funding you may suddenly find yourself in the position of trying to find a viable way forward.

So now is the time the way you deal with your customers becomes incredibly important. It’s the one thing that can make the difference between your future security or disappearing off the arts scene forever. You need to explore how you currently manage your customer relationships – do you have a reliable customer relationship management system that can give you the information you need on customers and patrons at the click of a button? Do you know what marketing campaigns you are running and if they are working? Do you have good mailing lists that you can quickly target if you need to promote an event (and bring sales in)? If the answer is no then now is definitely the time to invest more in your customer relationship marketing (CRM) system.

It might seem counterintuitive to invest in a software system when you are facing funding cuts. But that’s exactly the reason you need to do it now. If there is a chance your sources of revenue are going to dry up then you need new ways to bring money into your organisation. And that money comes from customers. If you aren’t talking and marketing to them effectively then you are missing out on the chance to sell to them. A good customer relationship management tool will allow you to:

  • control communication with your customers at both an individual and campaign level
  • pull all your lists and databases together in one place
  • update information for everyone in one place
  • manage memberships, collect donations, produce targeted mail shots and email newsletter
  • take bookings and sell merchandise.

Start by looking for a CRM system that integrates with your existing website, this will give you customers a simple way to interact with you and easily make purchases. Masque is designed specifically to work with your website to provide a seamless experience from sending a letter to a customer to them purchasing their ticket.

If you’d like to know more about CRM systems for your arts organisation call Masque Arts on +44 (0)20 7100 6010 or email us for further information.

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We all know the old adadge that selling to new customers costs a lot more than selling to existing ones, so perhaps we should just stop chasing new ones – in these austere times that might make sense.

However, as I’ve mentioned here before (Customer Acquisition vs Customer Retention), it does seem that going after these expensive new customers is much more attractive than some boring direct marketing to exisiting ones. However, this blog is not about urging you to spend more time on your existing customer marketing (I’ll leave that for another day – as Chad Bauman says, “Want to get into trouble? Concentrate on new audiences” – so we’ll come back to that), but about how you should approach your new customer acquisition.

Just marketing to exisiting customers is a non starter – old customers go away or die and if you didn’t replenish the existing customer pot, you will soon run out of people to sell to. Remember, your existing customers were new customers once.

Part of the problem is that we think of marketing as a cost, something we have to spend money on and as such something to cut when times get tough. Marketing, done properly, is an investment. You are using some of today’s money to generate an income stream in the future. And that is the key and like all investments it needs analysis and decisions.

It is not enough to compare the cost of a sale to an existing customer to one to a new one. On a campaign basis that is always going to lose. What we need to look at is the lifetime value of a customer and use that information to identify the best source of future exsiting customers.and what ongoing activity is going to maximise the return. So get out those spreadsheets and start looking at your best existing customers and where to get more like them.

Lifetime Value is the key to good new customer marketing.
… oh, so I was talking about marketing to existing customers after all

One question we keep getting asked is “how do I stop our newsletter being thrown into the junk mail box?”. If you are involved with email marketing, and I include newsletters in that, then this is obviously an important consideration. Avoiding the waste basket has been the goal of direct marketeers since direct mail started and the advice for email marketing to a large extent is very similar.

The easiest way to avoid the junk mail box is to get the recipient to mark your emails as safe/not junk. A lot of this centres around showing the recipient you know them, what they are interested in and in return you are interested in what they have to say.

1. Be personal: first of all address the recipient as an individual. Try to make sure that you know whether they like to be addressed by their first name or more formally. Do they know someone in your organisation? If so, can you send the email from them? Are they members of your friends scheme? Then send it from the membership manager – it just reinforces the relationship.

2. Divide and Conquer: What do you know about your recipients? Do have any purchase history? Have they told you what they like? Do you know what links they have taken previously? You probably have a vast amount of information available so use it to segment your lists and send them information they would be interested in. Do you have a group of large value contributors? Then give them special treatment. Are there people who are just not interested? Then don’t email them and try to find out why they aren’t interested – quality not quantity counts.

3. Communicate: don’t just instruct – “our next performance is on ….”, “new products in the shop…” – encourage your recipients to communicate. Ask for their feedback, direct them to places where some feedback has been published already, direct them to your facebook page and twitter account. Let them converse with you in the medium they are most comfortable with.

4. Test, Monitor and Analyse: Email marketing should not be fire and forget. Keep looking at you stats. What do people click on? Which articles have no interest? What is the best time of day to send your newsletter? Which layout works best?

5. Get the technical stuff right: Deliverability and legalities. using a trusted mail server and using a verified sending address is a great help in getting your email to the intended recipient. Make sure that you include a simple way for a recipient to unsubscribe in every email; treat you email as any other communication from your organisation and include your physical address; Don’t mislead in your subject line.

If you want to get started then take a look at Masque Mail, our low cost emailing solution or get in touch.

Segmentation is based on a principle: everyone is different; and a hope: but in certain aspects they are not that different – people can be grouped together based on some similarities and grouped in large enough bundles to make marketing cost effective. “Segmentation is a compromise between the homogenous mass and the single individual”1

Segmentation is at the heart of effective marketing. It is about understanding your customers. The goal has always been one-to-one marketing where each person is a segment and we talk to them as an individual. While technology has moved us in this direction, even printed material can now be customised based on the attributes of each recipient, it is still not cost effective to market on this basis wholesale and so breaking our audience down into manageable chunks makes sense.
Of course segmentation can be used in two ways: marketing more effectively to our existing customers and supporters – which involves profiling and analysing our existing customer database (“if you have one”, Katy Raines, p6 JAM issue 37 – if not contact me//shameless plug); or looking for new audiences – which really involves looking for a general profiling tool that can be used to identify those similar to existing audiences or represents the type of new audience you would like to attract.

The latest edition of JAM (Jan 2010) from the AMA looks at segmentation which was the subject of the very first JAM back in 2001. A long time between discussions and so a welcome addition to the JAM series. Interestingly we have contributions in both editions from Heather Maitland and Andrew McIntyre, so gives almost a history of the development in arts market segmentation over the last decade.
What is clearly illustrated is that although the marketing environment has changed dramatically, with the development of the Internet and computing power in particular, the concepts behind segmentation remain the same: as Maitland prefaced her original article “Marketing is a planned process that involves talking to the right people, about the right things, in the right way, and at the right time, to achieve your objectives”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
1. Andrew McIntyre JAM March 2001

I had an interesting conversation over lunch yesterday. We were discussing why new customer initiatives seem to be much more attractive to marketeers than customer retention activities.

Even though all our marketing eduction, and experience, tell us that it is much cheaper to sell to existing customers and patrons yet it seems that more effort is put into customer acquisition. That is not to say that customer acquisition is not important – it is the only way to grow a business over time. But by ignoring or just paying lip service to existing customer retention and development it makes new customer marketing nowhere near as efficient as it should be. If you are not actively marketing to your existing customers then how do you know the most profitable sectors targets to pursue for new customers.

By actively market, I mean continually profile and develop strategies for specific customer groups. Perhaps that is the problem – perhaps we have too much data to even get our heads around. Ideally, we’d market to our customers on a one-to-one basis, although that is not always going to be economic. Also, once we start this sort of analysis the faithful standard socio-economic categories just don’t cut it – that makes new customer marketing much harder. And the problem with tight segmentation in new customer marketing is the worry that you may lose some potential customers not in those groups – challenging.

So why? You will have your on views but a couple of things we discussed were: customer retention programmes are not as glamorous – it is the acquisition which has the advert budget; and retention programmes take a lot of analysis, thought and rigorous testing and refinement – a lot of detail. Perhaps it’s just the math.

Given today’s market place, hanging onto your customers is going to be critical. As budgets get cut, will it be new customer recruitment or customer retention that will feel the pinch first?